Sales lead generation – 20 to-dos for 2020

By now, unless you’re taking an extended break (and lucky you if that’s the case), you’re back to work after the holidays trying to plan your sales lead generation strategies. While some of us come back to a mountain of deliverables, sometimes it can take a bit for sales leads to ramp up at the beginning of the year. Either way, the post-holiday slump is a real thing, with many of us still feeling the physical and financial overindulgence of the holidays, and, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably already tired of the winter weather too. To help get some motivation and inspiration for your sales lead generation, here are 20 things you can do to kick your 2020 B2B demand generation strategy into gear.

1- Review what worked last year and what didn’t in your sales lead generation efforts.

With 2019 still fresh in your mind, it makes perfect sense to take a look at what your sales leads wins and losses had in common. Was there a process you used in your lead generation that was particularly successful? Were there any standout moments, good and bad? Now is the time to figure out what you want to keep doing, and what you’d like to avoid, this year and possibly forever.

2- Make some S.M.A.R.T. sales lead generation goals.

First seen in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran, and later made popular in Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept1, “SMART” is an acronym for:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable– specify who will do it.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

There are also some variations of what each letter stands for, such as “Agreed, “Attainable and Achievable” for the “A” and “Relevant” or “Results-based” for the “R.” So feel free to customize them as you see fit.

3- Bring in the experts for sales lead generation services.

Sometimes a fresh and trained perspective makes a huge difference. Specialized lead generation companies like 360 Leads can help you find the gaps and the opportunities. They do this by taking a deep dive into every aspect of your sales lead management operations, from call shadowing and instructional support, to integrated sales lead generation campaigns and post-campaign follow-up.

4- Do some digital housecleaning.

Clean Out Your Computer Day is the second Monday in February (Feb 10), but you could always get a jump start on it now. A new year is a great time to organize your B2B sales leads files and folders. It’s a satisfying feeling to hit “delete” on junk files, duplicate files and old files and programs you’re no longer using.

 5- Reconnect with B2B sales prospects that ghosted you.

Potential clients that weren’t interested last year, or were simply too busy to reply, might very well be interested now. A new year is a great opportunity to check in and say “happy new year” and ask what their goals are for 2020. And if you’re doing any “digital housecleaning,” cleaning out your email is also a great way to uncover some of these sales leads.

6- Engage in “Compliment Day” Jan 24.

Not that you really need an excuse to tell your coworkers that they’re doing a great job, but participating in Compliment Day on Jan 24 is a chance to have some fun with it. You can also take it beyond your own team and send out a complimentary note to your sales leads, partners and clients. You could even leave a positive online review for businesses you work with and hopefully they will return the favour.

7- Take a closer look at your customer service.

It’s been predicted that by 2020, customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands.2 As outlined in this infographic, a whopping 86% of customers say they would pay more for better customer service and 91% said they would leave after a negative experience.

8- Make sure your website is “mobile responsive.”

If your website doesn’t work properly on a smartphone, this is something you should address ASAP. Stats show that 61% of customers likely won’t come back to a site that gave them trouble and 40% would use a competitor’s site. 66% of online shopping is via mobile (with that number steadily increasing) and more Google searches take place on mobile devices than computers in 10 countries.3 Among other Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know, 91% of American adults have their smartphone within reach 24/7.

9- Review your insurance coverage.

As explained in this article from Forbes, “If you’re happy with how much your insurance costs, you’re not doing it right.” Business risks are changing rapidly and it’s important to make sure that you’re covered for things like cybersecurity.

 10- Reach out to new hires.

 As mentioned in this article about re-engaging prospects or qualified sales leads after the holidays, companies tend to hire a lot of new staff at the start of the year. A deal that stalled in Q4 could be revived through a new hire who is eager to add value to the company.

 11- Get some plants.

Besides just looking nice and helping you to get some “greenspace” indoors, scientific studies have actually proven that offices with plants make staff happier and more productive.

 12- Look for ways to give back.

Practicing CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is just smart for two major reasons: 1) you’ll feel good about doing it and 2) you’ll look good for doing it. It doesn’t even need to be particularly expensive – your team could participate in a volunteering event such as a food drive or donate blood as a group. (Fun fact: January is also blood donor month.4)

13- Help your site get better SEO so that your sales leads can find you.

Did you know that 81% of customers do online research before buying5 but 75% never scroll past the first page of search engine results?6 There are many different tools out there to make your site more search engine friendly, such as Google Search Console (which is free!).7 It’s also very important to use a good hosting provider, make good use of keywords and keep your content fresh by updating it regularly.

14- Add a chatbot to your site.

As explained in this blog, a chatbot is a very effective inbound marketing technique for lead generation, as it can help your site’s visitors to find the information they’re looking for faster. If you do it right, it can be a very enjoyable and even entertaining experience for your target.8

15- Write it down.

Handwriting Day is January 23, and it’s worth picking up a pen for. Various studies have shown that writing by hand, specifically expressive writing about thoughts, feelings and goals, can help to boost the happiness, health and productivity of your B2B sales team.9

16- Make some cold calls.

Believe it or not, The Black Report, a survey of over 300 executives around the world, found that outbound telemarketing was their most effective lead generation marketing channel. In a digital world, there just is no substitute for a human being. This blog and this blog have some helpful tips to help you make the most of every call.

 17- Ask your best customers for referrals or online reviews.

If you have happy, long-term and loyal customers, there’s an excellent chance they would recommend your business. Whether it’s a 5-star online review, being a reference for a potential prospect, or giving you some names of companies that they know could use your solution, you’ll never get what you don’t ask for… so just ask!

18- Learn what TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content is.

You likely know tofu as a soy-based vegan meat alternative and have no idea what the other two are, but TOFU, MOFU and BOFU are actually acronyms for targeted marketing: Top Of Funnel (traffic generation), Middle Of Funnel (demand generation) and Bottom Of Funnel (lead generation nurturing and customer acquisition). There is no such thing as “catchall content” anymore – you need to nurture your sales prospects (and support your sales team) at every stage in the lead generation game.

19- Take steps to keep remote workers engaged.

With the evolution of technology, B2B sales staff can do more remotely than ever before and working from home has become the norm for thousands of us. This article has some good tips on helping remote workers to be as effective and engaged as possible despite the distance, such as prioritizing one communication platform and sticking to a schedule.

 20- Celebrate “Fun at Work Day” Jan 31.

Sometimes the worst thing we can do is take ourselves too seriously. Nothing breaks the tension and helps with stress relief like a good laugh. In fact, playing at work has been actually proven to boost productivity by 20%! Fun at Work Day, held on the 4th Friday of January, is the perfect opportunity to plan something fun for your team.

Hopefully, one or more of these suggestions resonated with you, and you’ll consider making them part of your B2B sales lead generation process. No matter what, remember bonus tip 21: breathe. All we ever have is this moment, so make sure you’re always there for it. And if you need any help getting those new sales leads, contact us to find out more about our lead generation services. We wish you a prosperous lead generation year and successful 2020!

Want to generate leads? Learn how to tell your story.

How did your company come to exist and why? Can you explain it in an interesting, engaging and memorable way? In business, (especially if you want to generate leads), knowing your story, and how to tell it, can literally make the difference between connecting with a client, or not.

 According to The Black Report, only 17% of over 300 executives surveyed actually reached their lead generation targets. When we take a closer look at what those companies with the best lead generation results were doing right, it’s no accident that 73% of them had a well-defined, clearly articulated value proposition. Not only do they know their story and how to tell it, they have found a memorable way to explain the difference their company can make for their customers.

Generate leads by storytelling, not just selling.

As we touched on in our June 2019 Blog, a potential client feels more motivated to act when they can see how their story aligns with the story they are told by the sales representative. You’ve got to talk to both sides of the brain: logical and emotional.

Science says a good story will help them to remember you.

Chances are you’ve “lost yourself” in a good book, show or movie before – while becoming almost completely unaware of the environment around you. Fun fact: our brains are actually hardwired to do that. “It’s a survival mechanism that helps us do a better job of storing information in our memory,” explains Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, authors of The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You. More of our brains “light up” when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: “the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind.” Stories generate empathy on a chemical level, too. When we “put ourselves in someone’s shoes,” such as, in the case of one study, watching a lead character in danger in an action movie, our brains actually synthesize a neurochemical called oxytocin.

Get emotional. Yes, really. When done right, it works to generate leads.

 When it comes to telling your story in an actual presentation, your delivery makes a huge difference as well. While business usually requires a cool head, this is one time when passion has a place. “Emotions are crucial to the decision-making process… and move us in ways no data could ever do,” say Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman, veteran communication experts and co-authors of  The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business. That’s because, as research has shown, the left side of the brain will process your actual words, but the right ride, which attributes meaning to those words, will remember how you said it. Bottom line: if you aren’t passionate about your brand’s story, your prospects certainly won’t be either.

Ready to tell your story? We can help.

What is it that you do better than anyone else? How do you tell your potential sales leads in a way that will make them care? With our marketing strategy and creative capabilities, we can help you find those answers, and co-create your customized lead generation campaign. Contact us today.

Lead generation 101: conquer fears of cold calling

The dreaded lead generation cold call. A recent study revealed that 48 per cent of B2B sales reps fear making them.  Even though sales forces are supposedly made up of outgoing extroverts who are happiest when approaching new prospects, the truth is, we’re all human. And none of us like the awkwardness that can result when a cold call goes sideways. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening, which will also boost confidence among your sales people, and reduce the fear of picking up the phone. Lead generation 101 requires that you conquer fears of cold calling.

Don’t worry about sounding like a sales person

It’s what you do and it’s an honourable profession. Remember this truth about selling: you’re in business to improve someone’s life or their business. You’re a talented problem solver and by providing your product or service you are actively improving business processes or performance for your customers. You’re adding value to your prospect’s business, and in your first conversation you need to demonstrate this upfront with an example of how you can do this. For example, instead of calling a prospect and saying, “Hi, would you be interested in hearing about how my company can help your company?” start with something like this: “Hi, my company just released a research paper outlining three key ways to immediately improve profitability in your industry. I’d be happy to share it with you in an email.” Knowing that you’re providing valuable information to your prospects can go a long way towards removing the fear and anxiety you might have around B2B sales cold calling.

Practice makes perfect if you want sales leads

That takes care of the stigma some people feel at being in the sales business. But there is another fear, the fear of rejection, that keeps many people from initiating contact. Fear causes the blood to flow away from your brain’s frontal lobe so that the more reptilian part of your brain, the amygdala, takes over. The amygdala helps you fight or flee, not the kind of reactions you need to think and respond quickly, and definitely not the ideal state to be in when cold calling prospects. The way to alleviate this fear is to practice making calls for potential sales leads. Try role playing with coworkers, (who are likely experiencing the same pangs of fear), and you will not only get better at it, but you will feel more confident so that the fight or flight reaction goes away. To reduce your fear even further, try offering something to your prospect rather than asking something from them. Much less stressful and a better way to cultivate a relationship you want to last.

Cold calling is essential to lead generation

Cold calling is an essential part of B2B sales and to be successful you need to conquer your fears and get better at it. To overcome the fear of cold calling, see above. But if you’d rather leave the B2B lead generation and appointment setting to us, we’re happy to help out. Contact us today!

B2B sales lead generation gets a boost from chatbots

Filling out an online form is about as exciting as watching paint dry, yet they’re a standard B2B sales lead generation tactic for many B2B businesses. In essence their success depends on the willingness of people to spend time filling in blanks in order to receive something they perceive as valuable, whether that’s an article, a white paper, or an online tutorial.

A more modern and effective inbound marketing alternative is a chatbot. Chatbots boost B2B sales lead generation and they are a quick and easy way to start a conversation with very little effort required from your target.

Bots have been proliferating on websites for not only customer support, but also for sales lead generation.  They are easy to use, and can be entertaining too. Having somebody waiting for you to answer is surprisingly compelling. Without even knowing why, users find themselves slipping down the conversion funnel, quickly getting the information they need without having to look for it. Instead, they are treated to the much more fun experience of a simple interactive conversation.

Most of us have had a chatbot experience before, but if you haven’t, here’s how it works for B2B sales lead generation.

You head to a website and a chatbot pops up on screen, introducing their virtual self. They should also ask you for your name, so they can continue the conversation in a more personal way. To avoid any confusion, at some point early in the exchange they should clarify that they are not a human, but are in fact a bot.

Using a series of AI-powered questions they get to the heart of the matter, and find out what it is you are looking for. They should be able to get it for you in a nanosecond, after asking for a few more details, like your email address so they can follow up. In some cases they might pass the person along to a real, live human to assist.

This interaction should be as pain-free as possible, so a good script is a must. If you need help writing natural-sounding language, check out any of the numerous tutorials that exist. A few helpful tips include:

  • Keep the messages short
  • Avoid slipping into a monologue
  • The bot shouldn’t post more than three messages in a row before waiting for an answer
  • Leverage GIFs, emojis and videos to up the fun factor

If a customer leaves a conversation, the bot can leverage the information it gathered the last time and use it to personalize the next interaction and continue where they left off.

Don’t let hot sales leads cool down

Having a bot is a great investment for any B2B business with a website, but the follow-up is even more critical. A study showed that the faster the response time, the better the odds of contacting the sales lead. In fact, it found that the odds of making contact with a new lead are extremely high within five minutes but drop off dramatically as the minutes tick by. Specifically a sales rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The goal is to respond immediately and persistently to sales leads.

According to the Harvard Business Review, an audit of companies demonstrated the extremely short life of online leads and found that about half of all online leads were followed up only after 24 hours, or never followed up at all! What may well have been a hot lead may turn into a frosty reception for the salesperson making the call a whole day after the lead, if not later. When you’re paying mightily for each lead, that’s a big, fat waste.

So ensure your sales team reacts to a bot-generated sales lead with just as much speed and enthusiasm as your bot did in the first place. Or, consider your bot all for naught!

Find out how 360 Leads can help your business with a B2B sales lead generation campaign, whether that’s with a chat bot or not. Contact us today!

Why events are powerful for B2B lead generation

Who doesn’t love getting invited to an event? If that event is tied to one’s career, with a timely topic and interesting speakers, there’s an added incentive to attend. Events are powerful for B2B lead generation. For businesses, hosting events is a great way to increase brand awareness, reach out to potential clients and generate qualified B2B sales leads, both inbound and outbound. There’s no better way to present your brand and establish face-to-face relationships with potential buyers – at a time and place of your own choosing.

In-person events have been rated the most effective B2B tactic by the Content Marketing Institute for six years running, with 81% of marketers using them. And that should come as no surprise, since a well-organized event will inspire conversation and discussion – exactly the kind of things that build relationships.

Plan your own B2B lead generation event

Creating an opportunity for personal contact has never been as important as it is today. In the digital world we now live in, people crave interactions that are up-close-and-personal. That said, B2B lead generation events can take many different shapes and formats. It could be a small breakfast for 10 key industry leaders or a more casual after-work gathering for 50 or more people. These customized, bespoke events can be highly targeted, and just as highly targeted content works better than broad, catchall copy, smaller, ‘in-person’ events can bring greater results and potential sales leads for the bottom line.

Capitalize on someone else’s event

A tradeshow can offer the perfect opportunity to make a big impact on as many decision makers as possible in a limited time frame. From a sales lead generation standpoint, remember to put any new technology or products with a wow factor in the spotlight to attract attention and help you stand out in a crowd.

Remember that tradeshows offer an opportunity to stage an event within an event. You have a captive audience at a show or conference that you can invite to your own event, which can complement the overall tradeshow by showcasing the specifics of your products or services for a select audience.

Conferences also offer opportunities to sit on panels or be a speaker. Always accept these; they bring brand awareness and exposure to the right audience.

Pointers for organizing an event for B2B lead generation:

  1. Make sure events are convivial, entertaining and relaxing and ensure your invitation sets that expectation so prospective customers will be more inclined to attend.
  2. Events should be held in convenient locations and offer refreshments or a meal, i.e. breakfast sandwiches for morning meetings.
  3. Personalize your invitations and treat every invitee like a VIP.
  4. Events should have a main drawing card: a speaker who’s an in-demand major player in your industry, or a current topic that is of great importance to you and your peers. This could be new government regulations that will have an outsize impact, or a major trend that’s just starting to appear in your line of business.
  5. Events should allow for time to mingle over drinks or coffee, to create an atmosphere conducive to connecting with others in an easy-going, casual way.
  6. Make sure your event organizers are organized, goal-oriented people who have the same objectives in mind as you do.
  7. If you have speakers from your company participating, choose good storytellers with a deep knowledge of your company and business, and a knack for leaving an impression with an audience.
  8. Remember to keep it as short and relevant as possible. Avoid long speeches or too many speakers, and no hard sells. Always keep your audience in mind.
  9. For networking, send out a team of your best people. Set them up with the attendee list and have them pre-schedule some conversations with prospects.
  10. Be sure to gather all attendee contact information.
  11. Have an after-event plan: who will compile the insights you’ve gathered, who will follow-up with emails, phone calls and meetings to continue the conversations you’ve started.

Don’t forget

Remember, whether you organize your own targeted event, or participate in a tradeshow or conference, you’ll have the opportunity to meet people potentially interested in your offer. They might not immediately fall into your B2B lead generation sales pipeline at that event, but you’ll be better placed to approach them afterwards.

It’s because of the highly personal nature of these types of micro events that they are so successful. Face to face communication is always going to be the most effective marketing channel you can use. These events will require an investment of time and resources but if done well, you’ll make a great impression and will reap the rewards for a long time afterwards.

Find out how 360 Leads can help your business with a lead generation campaign. Contact us today!

A lead generation company with secret powers

Lead generation is the process of converting, and to some extent nurturing, business leads. The question of whether to hire an outside lead generation company is one that confronts many businesses who might otherwise consider doing this in-house. Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities and businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a lower cost than non-nurtured prospects. It’s not something you want to leave to chance. Hiring a lead generation company can make sense for a B2B business because they are focused solely on lead generation, have valuable industry expertise and can save your team time rather than trying to do this in-house. Here are the biggest reasons to hire someone to do it for you:

A lead generation company talks to the right people

Good lead generation is speaking to the right people at the right time, and it comes down to having the right contacts and the right data. Lead generation companies have access to databases with millions of business contacts covering a range of industries. Data specialists can determine which leads are qualified much more quickly than your own staff could.

They prioritize with lead scoring

An experienced lead generation firm will have proven methodologies that they can put to work on your case. Sales leads scoring is one of these techniques which can save a lot of time by not talking to people who aren’t as likely to convert.

They shorten the sales cycle

By having nurtured business leads sent to you the focus is firmly on selling, and the timeline to do so is much shorter. Time is money, and you will be saving plenty of it by having qualified leads sent directly to you.

They improve your company’s web presence

Many lead generation companies can assist with a blog strategy and SEO, so that potential customers can find you more easily through a web search. Then those prospects can be turned into leads and possible customers.

They can lower your costs

Developing a hiring and training program is costly. Sometimes it makes more sense to hire a company that is specialized and already has the skilled staff. Hiring a company to find leads frees up resources for other tasks. It eliminates the time and effort required to recruit and train staff.

They allow you to focus on your product or service

Whatever area of B2B your business operates in, one thing will ring true: it’s the USP of your company that generates revenue, and it’s the USP that you need to focus on. It’s the asset you possess which can’t be bought elsewhere and where you should focus your staff’s energies and resources. Outsourcing to an agency allows you to do just that.

How to find the right lead generation company

Before choosing an agency, it’s important to do your research. If possible, scan reviews, testimonials, and ask for referrals. Ask your shortlisted candidates questions about their processes, tools, and whether they have their own CRM software that will be able to integrate with your B2B CMS for a seamless experience.

While using a lead generation company will cost you money, it saves your business money too. So, unless you want to pay the true cost of generating your own leads, you’ll be wise to pass on the hidden costs to the experts.

You still have reservations about using an external company for B2B lead generation because you think they’ll take your money and run? That they’ll make a couple of calls and leave it at that? Well, it might surprise you to discover that not only will they deliver results, but they’ll deliver them in a variety of ways. Lead generation companies may specialize in one area, but often they’re multi-faceted experts who can cover all the following services:

• Email marketing
• SEO
• Social media
• Appointment setting
• Event promotion
• Content creation

In the B2B world, an individual sales lead or a sale can be worth a lot, so it’s important to put thought into the customer journey pre- and post-sale. Find out how 360 Leads can create a winning B2B lead generation campaign customized for your company and industry. Contact us today!

How to implement a B2B sales lead scoring system

Once you’ve got a reliable B2B sales lead pipeline, your focus shifts from getting those leads to identifying, nurturing, and closing them in order to make sales. But not all sales leads are created equal. You shouldn’t spend the same amount of time on every one that comes across your doorstep. Many companies have great website traffic, visitor engagement and repeat visitors that could all be considered warm leads. Developing specific scoring criteria on what is and isn’t a lead can be the difference between salespeople wasting their time and investing it against real prospects.

So how do you determine which ones are ready to commit to a purchase, which ones are lukewarm and need nurturing, and which are just kicking tires and not worth spending any time on?

Many advantages of a B2B sales lead scoring system

The way to answer those questions is to create a B2B sales lead scoring system. Lead scoring gives each one of those sales leads a ranking based on their activities – whether that’s on your website or through any of your content marketing devices, e.g. newsletters, social media posts or ads. The lead scorecard for each company will differ but not having one means there is no benchmark for determining what you classify as a sales-ready lead.

The power of scoring leads goes beyond simply boosting sales. You will find that it gives both sales and marketing a common language that helps to align them. Marketing will have a numerical value for each lead and can alter inbound marketing to target specific factors to generate more leads that meet specific criteria. It also allows marketing to better refine its messaging for top leads, testing approaches that might not work for less interested leads. For instance, you might be able to contact these leads more often or be more aggressive with your calls to action (CTAs). It also allows you to identify those highly satisfied customers who can act as champions for your company, especially when given encouragement through a targeted campaign.

How to keep B2B sales score

Setting up a scorecard can be relatively simple, by identifying the most important factors and giving them more weight than the “nice-to-haves.” First you need to establish the minimum criteria by which a customer is defined. These are qualifying characteristics, like: Must be in a specific service area, or Must be 21 years of age or older.  Then, identify the qualities that your targets usually possess. These are common but not necessarily essential, like the table stakes criteria we just discussed. The marketing department should be able to provide data here as they’ve likely done extensive research into who your typical customer is. Third step is to identify your ideal customer, those who the sales team would regard as having the most potential. What makes one prospect better than another? Someone in control of a certain size budget? A short timeframe in which to make a purchase?

Now that the characteristics have been listed it’s time to assess the behaviour of leads, the kinds of activities that suggest their level of interest and readiness to purchase. These activities are what moves them up or down the rankings, depending on the kind of activities they’ve engaged in and how frequently they’ve interacted.

Make a list of behaviours

Begin by listing all possible behaviour sales leads can engage in. While some behaviours are more important than others, it can be helpful to assign a point value to all behaviour (even if it is a very small value). So, don’t leave anything out just because it seems unimportant. Your scorecard should include site visits, fill forms, download requests, webinar participation and more. Here are some of the lead’s activities that earn points in the lead scoring model:

  • Visited a webpage
  • Number of website sessions
  • Participated in a webinar
  • Looked at pricing
  • Started a free trial
  • Filled out a contact form
  • Downloaded a lead magnet, like a white paper
  • Opened an email
  • Clicked on a link in a newsletter
  • Replied or forwarded an email
  • Shared content on social media

Some of these behaviors will be “critical conversion behaviours” (activities that most of your leads do prior to becoming customers). These might be things like signing up for a free trial or requesting a sales demo. A thorough analysis of your Google Analytics data should make these defining behaviours obvious.  Mark your critical conversion behaviours with a star so you can give them appropriate emphasis when it’s time to assign points to rules.

Assigning points

For most companies a straightforward 1-to-100-point model will be enough. For B2B lead generation, a company might want to use a thousand-digit ranking, giving small, medium and large businesses a 1, 2 and 3 first digit. So, a lead with a score of 3062 would be a large company with a 62-point score. Another technique is to define the three (or more) minimum criteria – “table stakes” – to be considered eligible as a lead. If you assign 100 points to each of these, and decide they need to have at least three of these essential characteristics to qualify, then a lead with a score of 435 would go into the pool, but one with a score of 282 would not. This ensures that a bad lead never makes its way to the sales team, no matter how many of the behaviours rules they trigger.

Reassess lead scoring criteria regularly

Setting up a sales lead scoring system can be as simple, or as complicated, as you can get, given your marketing data. You’ll have to tweak it as you use it and check it against conversions regularly to ensure you have set up a system that works. Remember: no matter how qualified a lead is, some will never convert. So be prepared to see some inconsistencies when reviewing results.

We know all about lead scoring because we’ve implemented it for dozens of our B2B clients in all kinds of industries. Learn more about how 360 Leads can help you put together a winning lead scoring system, by contacting us.

A TV appearance can help with sales leads

Think of how much it costs to buy a television ad to help you generate sales leads, and consider that, with a little tactical manoeuvring, you can get even better exposure on television without paying a dime.

Not only do you save loads of money on advertising, but a single TV appearance can lead to new business or a partnership. Plus, it’s great inbound marketing that could drive qualified sales leads, depending on the topic and your appearance. Most importantly, you are building expertise and authority in your subject matter and that can generate more appearances and a higher profile, for you and your B2B company.

While television producers have regular guests and columnists they rely on for news, business or health coverage, as a B2B business leader, you have very specific knowledge of something most people do not.

When breaking news happens in your industry you want to be the person ‘chase producers’ think of when they are madly trying to line up guest to provide commentary. You want to get on their radar before the news story happens, so they will think of you when it does. In this case, it helps to be a regular contributor to public discussions around topics you are expert in.

When a news story breaks, news producers do what they do: they google to see what hot takes there are on the topic, and they’ll check you out – on LinkedIn, Twitter, your company website or any other platform – to ensure you’re the ideal guest who will enliven and engage their audience. Because you are being vetted without your knowledge, it’s smart to Google yourself on a regular basis to see what comes up and how your expertise is showcased.

Consider reaching out as part of your sales leads strategy

A more direct route is to find the producers at your favourite network shows, where you would love to be a guest, and send them a commentary on a breaking news item that you have special knowledge of. If you are writing a company blog, you’re in a great position to get noticed. Jump on any news opportunity to comment and draft a compelling piece that provides your learned perspective on the issue at hand. Think of this as auditioning for a spot on their show. The next time that topic is a hot issue, they will remember your expertise and call you in for comment.

What’s next

Once you have a track record of posts on your company blog, seek out other publishing opportunities to spread your name and boost your credibility. If you come up frequently in searches on certain topics, and if you are published on widely read blogs or national websites, you stand a very good chance of being called up to the big leagues: a network TV show.

Becoming the go-to person on a given topic takes perseverance and patience. Her are a few pointers on how to do it slowly but strategically as part of an overall lead generation campaign:

  • Cultivate trusted relationships with journalists and producers by showing an interest in their articles or shows.
  • Give them exclusives once in awhile to build trust and rapport.
  • Be persistent and patient. Set a goal each week, to post a blog, or be mentioned in another industry blog.
  • Always send out your best work. If you need an editor or proof-reader, make sure everything you write gets read by at least one other person. If your style is drab, think about getting writing lessons.

With persistence, solid media relationships and ensuring your voice is “out there” where the important conversations are happening, you will stand a much better chance of getting on television. It’s a repeatable process since producers are ecstatic to have found an expert and will have you on repeatedly, and it has potentially great value for your business! What could be better. Go forth and put yourself out there as a ‘thought leader’ or ‘subject matter expert’, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Need some help, give us a shout.

Best social media for lead generation

Social media for lead generation is a driving force in many facets of our daily lives and for B2B marketers social media platforms are now the number one content marketing tactic – ahead of blogs, articles, e-newsletters, videos, podcasts, white papers and case studies that should be part of your overall lead generation efforts. In other words, if you’re not on it, you’re not in it. Yet some businesses are overwhelmed by all the social networks and think they need to have a presence on all of them. This would be a mistake, as it is difficult enough to have a meaningful presence on one platform, let alone all of them. You would be stretching your marketing resources too thin; instead, for lead generation, focus on the platforms where most of your potential customers are, and build your social media presence from there.

Start by looking at your audience and researching which social media networks they most commonly use, how they use them, and which platforms best fit your products or services. For B2B lead generation, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the best bets. People turn to these sites to interact with their peers and friends, hear the latest news, track the markets and keep up with developments in their fields. For many users, social media is a form of professional development where they come to learn about new products and services that can help them in their own business. This makes it an ideal place to position your brand as a valued contributor of information to elevate your visibility among potential customer and clients. It’s a sell-free environment, meaning you can communicate and cultivate sales leads without the pressure of having to close. It’s a long game but one that you absolutely must be in, so here are some tips to make the most of your time and effort on the social networks.

The three goals of a B2B social media strategy are to build brand awareness, showcase your expertise, and make B2B sales contacts. Here’s how to do it on the top three B2B social media networks.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is perhaps the best platform for B2B lead generation, mainly because it’s filled with decision makers looking for ways to improve their business, find their own leads and strike up meaningful conversations. LinkedIn folks are receptive to a blog post that addresses something in their business that needs attention or a big fix. It’s also a place to stimulate thinking on aspects of their business they might not have thought about recently. One big bonus of this site is its notification system: whenever you visit a user’s LinkedIn profile that user is immediately alerted, and in most cases, they’ll check the profiles of anyone who’s viewed theirs. This acts as an introduction service, which is key for building awareness of your company before you actually initiate first contact. You can see which groups your target audience is a member of and can see what they’ve posted recently or commented on. This is invaluable in getting to know your prospects. Comment on their shared content, post your own relevant content and act as a friendly authority on the subject matter.

Twitter

A favourite of journalists, decision makers and a certain U.S. president, Twitter is where thousands of conversations are happening all at once. You will want to stay on top of your timeline so you can make contributions on a regular basis, whether that’s commenting on shared content, retweeting tweets and hashtagging keywords relevant to your industry, or following key people. One way to organize Twitter accounts you follow is by creating lists. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list so you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of general, and likely unrelated, tweets. For instance, if you’re in the automotive parts business, you could create a list of Manufacturers, another one called Automotive journalists, a third called Competitors. If you want to see what your competitors are tweeting, a list can make it easier to catch up on conversations. It takes a bit of organizing, but it is incredibly helpful if you want to use Twitter strategically instead of getting lost reading Twitter tirades and all the replies. Smartly crafted feeds can also be a great tool for social listening, especially if you’ve curated lists of your competitors. In addition to monitoring tweets, lists offer another way to keep tabs on the competition. From each competitor’s profile page, you can see what lists they’re subscribed to, and what lists they’re included on. This can give you valuable information about who your competitors are keeping an eye on and interacting with, so you can do the same.

Facebook for lead generation

If you think the world’s most popular social media network isn’t the place for B2B marketing, think again. Beyond brand and reputation management, with its massive audience and engagement, Facebook also provides invaluable advertising intelligence about your audience. Imagine using Facebook retargeting to show ads only to people who have visited your website. There are reams of data available once you establish a presence. Be aware of shameless self-promotion, or just posting offers or coupons. The idea is to sell your company’s story, provide useful information, and never try to fool your audience. Be honest, human and transparent and your audience will appreciate your candor and trust your insights.

By now you now that B2B social media works better as a tool that you can use to influence your sales targets, rather than a channel to direct conversions. Because social networking sites so thoroughly blend personal and professional interactions, it’s vital to never come across as a spambot fishing for leads. Instead, you should make a genuine effort to join conversations, add value to them, and in doing so present your brand in the best possible light. The ultimate goal is to ensure that each of your potential clients has laid eyes on your brand before you initiate first contact with them.

Find out how 360 Leads can help you harness the power of social media to generate B2B sales leads. Contact us today!

Three truths for a successful LinkedIn lead generation campaign

We know a thing, or hundreds, about successful LinkedIn lead generation campaigns. Why hundreds? We shipped 720 free coffee mugs to IT professionals across Canada who engaged with our LinkedIn campaign for Toshiba, as part of a larger LinkedIn sales lead generation campaign.

Now what do free coffee mugs have to do with successful B2B lead generation? While there are many things, there are three absolutes that we know can drive a highly successful LinkedIn lead generation campaign. So successful, that LinkedIn wrote a case study about it.

#1 Develop a key customer insight for your LinkedIn lead generation campaign

IT professionals have a tough job. The users they support need their gear to work, and when it doesn’t, you know who they will call. Yes, they have a two-hour battery life for a three-hour presentation and can’t find their charger. Our strategy was to make the IT professional the ‘unsung hero’ dealing with IT challenges and inviting them to engage with Toshiba to make their life easier. LinkedIn display ads, Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail were all part of the LinkedIn lead generation strategy based on the key insight of ‘unsung hero’.

#2 Create some creative that breaks through

Snoresville creative puts people to sleep. IT people, like most people, have a sense of humor. And with a sometimes no-win job, a sense of fun is the antidote for a tough day. Creative lines like “Mr. Awesome IT Guy” or “World’s #1 IT Gal” supported a free mug give-away that drove people to a landing page. One creative execution had two display ads connected in a fashion where the animation poured coffee into the free mug. The point of the free mug was for users to self identify they received the mug and for Toshiba sales reps to visit the IT professional to deliver the mug and have an IT conversation. You can view some of the LinkedIn creative here.

#3 Target the right audience

Mass LinkedIn marketing campaigns aren’t right for most products, with Toshiba being no different. Promoting business laptops and filling the sales pipeline with qualified B2B sales leads means targeting IT professionals in mid-market and larger companies. Why sell one notebook when you could sell three thousand with a standardized chip set? LinkedIn offers an ability to be quite targeted in reaching the right audience by geography, job title and as granular as industry or company. Do you know who your ideal customer is? Toshiba did and our campaigns, LinkedIn and beyond, put a sales rep in front of them.

People often comment that LinkedIn is great for brand awareness but wonder if it generates qualified B2B sales leads. As a top B2B sales lead generation company, we can tell you that LinkedIn has its strengths; the key is how to take advantage of the platform to deliver maximum lead generation results. Great customer insights, killer creative and pin-point targeting are the best ways to utilize LinkedIn.

On Toshiba, how did we do?

  • We booked hundreds of sales meetings with qualified sales prospects
  • Delivered LinkedIn leads at a lesser cost than some other channels
  • Sponsored InMail CTR 2X LinkedIn average
  • LinkedIn campaign drove 7% of total qualified leads during the campaign periods

For more information on how 360 Leads can help drive inbound sales leads from LinkedIn or other digital media, please contact us. We can help grow your business.

Marketing KPIs for B2B sales growth

Do you know whether your marketing is working for your B2B sales growth efforts? Whether it’s improving, or it needs assistance? Without a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) it’s impossible to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and determine whether you might need some lead generation assistance to boost B2B sales.

KPIs exist in every industry, but some are more revealing than others. Not all KPIs will have applicability to B2B sales and lead generation, and old school metrics like brand awareness or impressions aren’t as helpful as they were once thought to be. Here are some of the essential marketing KPIs that will give you clarity on whether your current marketing and lead generation efforts are paying off.

B2B Sales Growth

After all is said and done, the best way to measure the effectiveness of marketing is by seeing a concurrent uptick in sales growth. As you look at the trend, think of which marketing efforts have been applied in that period, and you will start to get a sense of which marketing tactics are contributing to growth and which aren’t moving the needle. Sales figures are something to share with the entire team so that all employees, regardless of their role, have the same goal: to drive sales skyward.

Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)

This is the cost of convincing a prospective customer to buy a product or service from you. For example, if you spent $100,000 on sales and marketing in a month and this resulted in 10 purchases, then your COCA would be $10,000. As your marketing strategy improves, this number should go down and each customer should cost less to acquire.

Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)

While it’s not an exact science, the lifetime value of a customer is worth figuring out. Add up all sales your average customer has initiated over the course of your relationship and use this equation to find out the LTV of your average customer: revenue x gross margin x average # of repeat purchases.

Sales Team Response Time

Because the quality of a B2B sales lead degrades over time, sales response times are incredibly important. Yet, according to a study of the effect of sales response time on lead close rates, B2B leads typically receive shockingly slow response rates from sales teams, much slower than B2C leads. Perhaps there is less urgency in the world of B2B, but the fact is, the longer the gap between receiving a sales lead and responding to it, the less likely the sale will close. In fact, the study showed that “firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.” So start tracking response times and try to close that gap; it’ll pay off.

Email Marketing KPIs

Your email marketing strategy is one of the key lifelines to your customers so it’s essential you know how well each and every email has done. The most relevant marketing KPIs are delivery rate, unsubscribe rate, the open rate, the click-through rate, the conversion rate and the number of forwards or shares it got. By tracking these and improving on them with each new piece of email, you will be cultivating your audience.

Social Media

The reach and engagement on your social media platforms is of vital importance because this is how you both distribute content and interact with potential customers. Certain platforms might not be where you get the best traction. Find out which platforms make sense for your audience and where you can build a following and concentrate on those.

Remember, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. And if you are the marketing point person on your team, you need to be on top of it. Start with a few basic marketing KPIs and add to them as you become more proficient at assembling reports. We can help you get started.

At 360Leads we use our expertise to deliver a constant B2B sales growth pipeline of qualified new business opportunities to our clients. If you’d like to chat about how we can turbocharge your current marketing efforts, contact us.

Are you / is your team B2B sales ready?

You can lead a horse to water, but can you make it drink? That’s essentially what a sales team is up against when they are given B2B sales leads to convert. They might be used to dealing with pre-existing customers, but for a business to grow, sales teams must convince new prospects to buy from them. Are they ready to sell?

If your sales team needs some inspiration, here are some tips from seasoned sales pros that can help get conversion rates up.

Lead the conversation with a compelling story a buyer can relate to

The ability to create a narrative or a storyline is one of the greatest ways to improve lead conversion. Everyone has a story and is living it every day. A potential client feels more motivated to act when they can see how their story aligns with the story they are told by the sales representative. Mastering the art of creating a compelling narrative has the power to improve your sales overnight.

Stay true to yourself and your company and be honest about whether your offer aligns with the customer’s needs

Tell your prospects directly when you don’t have something they seek. When you depart from the hard sell, the client will be pleasantly surprised, and might give you more time as a result. It’s a way of developing trust that will help you improve your close percentages in the long run. In the meantime, you must be prepared to walk away from a sales deal knowing the time is not right.

To increase B2B sales lead conversions, ask pre-qualifying questions at the outset

This is essential, so your sales person isn’t wasting her time, or the buyer’s time. Sales reps often habitually skip over this critical step in the process and waste valuable time working leads that were never going to turn into sales. Honing the skill of asking questions to determine the quality of the lead ultimately enhances lead conversion and sales.

Do your research and be knowledgeable about the customer’s business/company

Show them what their world will look like after they’ve purchased your product or service. They will appreciate imagining the difference this purchase will make for their company and will be more inclined to buy. Plus, they could turn into evangelists for your own company if the sale makes them look good in their own manager’s eyes.

Following-up and persistence is key

While a sales rep must maximize the opportunity present in every meeting, it’s not always possible to close after the first conversation. Creating a schedule to get back to a sales lead is helpful so that they feel valued while sales keeps their eye on the prize.

You can have the most compelling marketing campaign in a century, but without well-trained B2B sales people picking up the baton and being able to deliver the right sales pitch to the right sales lead, marketing efforts could be wasted. If you’d like to learn how 360 Leads blends sales and marketing into a synergistic package for our clients, please give us a call.

Do your B2B sales people control the conversation?

How many times has a sales person said that the B2B sales lead they received was unqualified, poor or just plain bad? Let’s face it, some sales leads really are poor. But many could be terrific if put in the hands of a well-equipped sales person who knows their business, has taken the time to understand their prospect’s business and can add real value. Real salespeople aren’t order-takers, they are value creators that represent the bigger value their company can bring to their sales prospect.

More B2B sales

There aren’t many B2B businesses who don’t want more sales. Earlier this week, a client of ours was asked by one of our people “what’s the quality of your salesforce?” The answer was a resounding, “meh”. Great – let’s get that salesforce more sales leads through a B2B sales lead generation program! While it’s true that more leads mean more chances to win the deal, it also means more opportunities missed if the sales team isn’t ready to add value.

A good sales methodology

A sales methodology that can apply to both sales relationship managers and sales prospecting is the Challenger Sales Model. This is a sales approach where the seller actively teaches their prospect, customizes their sales process, and takes control of the customer conversation. They do this by really understanding how their product or service can solve important business challenges for their sales prospect and add value to their business. This process not only increases the chances for winning the deal, it also diminishes price as a contributing factor to closing the deal. The process allows for the seller to provide a solution that the customer needs versus the customer specifically dictating what they want, which may not actually be right for them.

Sometime sales people are afraid to drive the dialogue and challenge their prospect to rethink how they are approaching their business problem. Challenging a prospect doesn’t need to be confrontational – in fact, anything but. It’s about being knowledgeable and confident about your business and leading a meaningful conversation on how and why your business can help add value. And if you’re business can’t add value, perhaps you don’t deserve to win the deal.

According to Corporate Vision, 74% of B2B buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight. With an average of 5.4 people involved in the B2B buying decision (CEB), B2B selling continues to evolve and highly capable sales people are critical to success.

Inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation: they work better together

No doubt you’ve heard about inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation. They’re often viewed as choices that a marketer makes when deciding how to generate B2B sales leads. Instead of thinking about this as a choice, it’s better to view them as complementary forces. Combining inbound and outbound forces can create a more cohesive – and powerful – marketing strategy.

Inbound: Content that attracts sales leads

Inbound marketing is a passive way of marketing, in which you wait for the customer to come to you, through content related to the solutions that your company can provide. These potential customers are out information shopping, and they likely have the budget to buy. However, they might not have heard of you, hence the importance of creating appealing content to draw them in.

Inbound: Make it relevant and diverse

Creating a diversity of content – from blog posts to white papers to podcasts on hot topics – helps strengthen your reputation and the likelihood these interested readers become buyers. Yet inbound won’t necessarily get the whole job done, since it also draws people who are not necessarily qualified leads. It also takes time and patience as you attract an audience. In other words, inbound marketing shouldn’t be the only strategy that you deploy.

Outbound: Requires a deft touch

Outbound marketing is traditional marketing which actively reaches out to customers where they are most likely to be and appeals to them directly, through advertising, direct mail or phone calls. These methods draw prospects into the sales funnel while clearly and overtly positioning your products and services. Outbound requires that you find customers who aren’t necessarily looking for your products or services – in fact they may know nothing about it at all.  But once they’re presented with your offering, they can see a need.

Outbound: The interruption factor

Outbound marketing enables you to choose your target audience, (something inbound is notoriously bad at doing), but there is a risk. It can feel intrusive to buyers who are used to dictating when, where and how they educate themselves. Since outbound techniques tend to be focused on the immediate, i.e. the call from a sales rep, the banner ad, or the webinar currently taking place, one way to lessen the interruption factor is by combining it with inbound marketing techniques to familiarize buyers with your company before more direct contact is made.

Soften the hard sell by combining inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation

The smartest marketers combine both approaches in their B2B sales strategies. Here are a few examples of how you can mesh inbound and outbound marketing activities into a cohesive sales and marketing strategy:

  • After meeting with a client, instead of the usual thank you note, why not send a link to a piece of content related to what you and the prospect discussed?
  • Create a customized email blast for your clients, prospects, colleagues to let them know about your blog and ask them to subscribe to it. This is a great example of inbound and outbound working together and can be used to promote any type of content like video, e-books, and white papers.
  • Advertisements, email marketing and hard copy mailers are all examples of traditional outbound marketing tactics that can be effective when done correctly. But don’t let ads or hard copy mailers “stand alone.” Make them even more effective with calls to action. Include an effective CTA to draw prospects to the content you’ve already created through your inbound marketing strategies. Ask them to subscribe to your blog, follow you on Facebook, download an e-book, or watch a video.

Ultimately it’s a combination of both inbound and outbound strategies – along with qualifying digital sales leads properly – that increase the odds of closing a deal. If you’d like to learn how we blend inbound and outbound marketing techniques to create customized lead generation solutions for our clients, please give us a call.

Inbound versus outbound: which is more effective for lead generation?

With every new platform come new ways to reach out to potential customers, and B2B company marketers have a wide selection of tactics to choose from when planning a strategy. Simply put, these tactics fall into two main categories – inbound and outbound lead generation tactics – though the two are often combined in an integrated strategy. But what are the main differences between inbound and outbound marketing? Simply put, outbound marketing is the kind we grew up with – TV, radio and billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, direct mail and event sponsorships – whereas inbound draws customers to the product or service because of their innate interest in it.

A bit of history we all know too well

In the early years when advertising was novel, people enjoyed reading magazines and newspapers and relied on them to alert them to sales and promotions. People enjoyed watching TV commercials because they were told about products that were genuinely new and that they were interested in learning more about. As the decades passed, advertising lost its value to surprise and delight in the same way. Today we call it interruption-based marketing, which few people have any patience for anymore.

But it still has its adherents, who believe there can be value if you find a platform or medium with a big enough audience. The rationale is, and was, that if you hit upon an above average association with enough audience members, then that percentage of the audience would listen to the interruption and sales leads would convert into bonafide customers. But today, this kind of investment is looking more and more like finding a needle in a haystack. A big reason is the availability of ad-blocking apps and technology, along with new streaming services that are completely ad-free.

What the stats tell us

A couple of statistics to prove that point: 65% of people skip through online video ads. People don’t like ads for a few reasons: they’re in your face and intrusive; they don’t come across as genuine and don’t inspire trust or confidence in the product or service; there isn’t enough relevance to who the customer is, and what solution they are looking for.

B2B marketers might continue to place advertisements and send out direct mail as part of their approach. But to earn the trust of customers and build a long-term relationship based on that trust, B2B marketers turn to inbound marketing for generating sales leads.

Instead of pushing messages out to an audience who may or may not want to hear it, inbound marketing pulls already interested customers in. Customers find you when they need you, which almost guarantees they’re pre-qualified. So not only is inbound cheaper, more measurable and more targeted, it can also generate sales leads that are farther down the funnel.

Here is a short list of some lead generation inbound tactics:

  • An SEO (search engine optimization) strategy where we take a look at your website, do a keyword audit, and ensure your content includes keywords that will draw more organic traffic to your site.
  • PPC (pay per click) advertising also uses keywords that people are using to search and require buying an ad that will appear on search engines at the top of the SRP (search results page). You only pay once a customer has clicked on the ad and has gone to your site.
  • Content marketing is creating useful, relevant information that people need and want, and using it to draw people to your website, to sign up for a newsletter, or to download a piece of content in exchange for their contact information that you can follow up with.
  • Social media accounts. Creating and programming social media accounts with valuable information that people want to read or watch is a good way of demonstrating your expertise in your industry and becoming a trusted source. As noted above, millennials and more people in the business world actively search for this and you will earn their trust which hopefully converts them into a paying customer.

At 360 Leads we’ve run many successful B2B lead generation campaigns and would be happy to discuss how we can help. If you’re ready to explore a lead generation campaign, contact us today.